São Paulo — On Tuesday, part of a major highway collapsed on a construction site in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, where Acciona SA in Spain is located. I was digging a tunnel for a new subway line.
No casualties have been reported, but it was the latest retreat of a significantly delayed project that became a symbol of dysfunctional public construction in Latin America’s largest economy.
Television images show the lanes of the Marginaltiete Highway, which falls into a pit that stretches along the construction site of a tunnel under the river near the planned Route 6. It was flooding.
Public security officials said all 50 workers were able to exit the tunnel and only two were treated for contact with the dirty water spouting from the site.
There was contradictory information about the causes of the flood and its subsequent collapse.
João Doria, Governor of São Paulo, said at a news conference that a sewage collector owned by the water company Savesp was beaten and caused the incident.
However, Acciona’s Brazilian country director Andre de Angelo said at the same press conference that there was no conflict between the excavator and the sewage network.
“We are now looking for the cause. The tunnel excavator was 3 meters away from this collector, so there was no collision, so it’s probably related to rain and erosion.”
The prosecutor said in a statement that he had begun a civil investigation into the case, trying to determine the exact cause of the collapse and the extent of the damage.
Acciona said in a statement that he had taken all necessary emergency measures after the incident.
Line 6 was originally scheduled for completion in 2012, but was delayed several times due to lack of funds in Brazil’s severe recession. It is currently scheduled to be completed in 2025.
The planned 15km (9 miles) line, one of the largest infrastructure projects underway in Latin America, joins the Brazilian district of northern São Paulo and the city centre.
Acciona has won a € 2.3 billion contract to develop the project after the consortium before the construction of the subway line completed the project.
After the incident, the stock price of Acciona, which is listed on Madrid, fell sharply, falling 2.98%.
Sao Paulo-listed Sabesp shares closed at 0.91%, rising 0.97% below Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index.
Since starting operations in Brazil in 1996, Acciona has been working on a water treatment plant in the northeast and has developed a 200-kilometer highway in Rio de Janeiro.
Other recent transportation projects in recent years include the Barcelona, Dubai and Vancouver metro lines.
By Eduardo Simões and Leonardo Benassatto